I met a former coworker for post-work drinks this week, where we indulged in obligatory company gossip. We swapped our latest customer “war stories,” caught up with life outside the office, and vented about general company policy.
As we talked, I noticed that my view of our company had changed considerably since moving to my new position. Like pretty much every company in the country, ours is cutting costs in every possible corner. The inconsequential cog that I am in the company wheel, I loathe these decisions. They invariably make life harder for those of us in the branches: we end up fighting to maintain our own credibility while enacting changes that we may or may not agree with.
Working at headquarters places me closer to these decisions. Our President’s office is a few floors above my desk, I’ve chatted with members of twenty departments at my desk while helping them manage their personal banking, I’ve watched three members of our marketing department walk out like zombies just moments after being laid off.
I expected this new branch to bring greater frustration: eliminated departments and laid-off employees are no longer abstract corporate mandates, they’re decisions that affect the lives of my close acquaintances. I’ve actually found that I respect my company more than ever before.
That is, my definition of “my company” has shifted its focus. “My company” no longer refers to executives and the Board. “My company” refers to the wonderful, talented men and women who work their asses off every day. When I say “my company” I’m no longer referring to the entity that cuts resources, I’m referring to my coworkers who find ingenious ways to achieve results despite these cuts.
For example, it maddens me that our company’s television commercials are woefully sub-par. Since moving to headquarters, I now see them and appreciate the volume of exposure our meager 2-person marketing department is able to assemble. My frustration has melted. I’ve grown in it’s place an appreciation for the amazing work my coworkers can do despite being stretched thinner than ever before.
As a customer recently commented: the longer you stay at a company, the more you notice its shortcomings. True, but only half the story. The longer you stay at a company, the more you begin to value the employees more than the brand.